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Massachusetts

 

An arrow graphic shows that Massachusetts's renewable portfolio standard increases from 10% in 2015, to 15% in 2020.

Carve-out: 1600 MW by 2020 as a part of Class I renewables
Tracking system: New England Power Pool Generation Information System (NEPOOL-GIS)

Massachusetts' renewable portfolio standard (RPS) mandates Class I resources (including solar PV) to make up a certain percentage of electricity sales by investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and retail suppliers, realizing 15% by the end of 2020 and an additional 1% each year thereafter.

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources administers the Massachusetts Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) program, designed to support about 1,600 MW of solar PV by 2020. The eligibility for the SREC II program is limited to 6 MW per system. In February 2016, the SREC II program was extended to the end of 2017. In addition, it has imposed a factor of 0.8 for systems 25 kW and above and 0.7 for systems above 650 kW for renewable energy credits (RECs), reducing the 10-year revenue stream for mid market customers [1]. As the solar PV carve-out and net-metering programs are nearly at capacity, Massachusetts increased its aggregate cap for net metering and adjusted its rates. The measures give exemptions to small systems that midmarket customers cannot benefit from.

Latest Updates

  • In February 2017, the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) extended SREC II program into 2017.
  • In January 2017, DOER released its final program design for the solar incentive program that will succeed the existing SREC II Program. The new program, called Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART), aims for 1,600 MW of solar. Small projects will receive a 10-year fixed price term, and large projects will receive a 20-year fixed price term. The maximum eligible project size is 5 MW.

Net Metering

Massachusetts' net metering is currently capped on an aggregate level at 9% (4% for private facilities and 5% for government facilities) of the utility's peak load. In April 2016, S.B. 1979 increased the state's net metering aggregate capacity limits from 4% to 7% of a utility's peak load for private facilities and from 5% to 8% for government facilities. Midscale systems are not exempt from the system cap.

Prospective customers seeking to net meter must apply for a "cap allocation" through the Massachusetts Cap Allocations website. The cap allocation enters the prospective customer into the "System of Assurance of Net Metering Eligibility", which allows the customer to know before project development whether the project will be eligible for net metering.

System size limit: 10 MW for municipality and governmental entity; 2 MW for "Class III" systems; 1 MW for "Class II" systems; 60 kW for "Class I" systems.

Aggregate cap: Net-metered systems >10 kW in a single-phase circuit and >25 kW on a three phase circuit should not exceed 7% of a utility's peak load for private facilities and 8% for government facilities.

Credit: After Massachusetts has reached 1,600 MW of solar, all non-residential and non-municipal customers will follow a "market net-metering rate" for net excess solar generation, which will credit them only 60% of the full retail value.

RECs: Customers retain ownership of renewable energy certificates (RECs).

Meter aggregation: Virtual net metering is allowed.

Interconnection

Massachusetts' interconnection rules apply to all distributed generations systems and require IOUs to have standard interconnection tariffs. A project can follow three different interconnection review paths: simplified, expedited, and standard. Although midmarket systems fall above of the limit for simplified interconnection, they are eligible for the expedited process.

Eligible Systems Type of Interconnection
IEEE 1547.1 certified inverter-based system ≤15 kW for single-phase or ≤25 kW for 3-phase Simplified (maximum 15 days)
Inverter-based system >15 kW for single-phase or >25 kW for 3-phase; other systems on radial circuit that meet requirementss Expedited (40–60 days)
All other systems Standard (125–150 days)

System size limit: None

Liability insurance: Varies by system size, type, and sector

External disconnect switch: Not required

Third Party Ownership

Third party power purchase agreements are allowed in Massachusetts.

Community Solar

The Massachusetts Green Communities Act enables the use of "neighborhood net-metering credits" to compensate owners of neighborhood net metering facilities.

Massachusetts allows virtual net metering for solar systems up to 2 MW that serve at least 10 residential customers. Commercial customers may also subscribe to community solar projects, as long as the system meets requirements for residential customers. Subscribers are compensated through neighborhood net-metering credits at the full retail rate.

State Incentive Programs

Program Administrator Incentive
Leading By Example Solar PV Canopy Grant Program Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs State agencies, including higher education institutions, may be eligible for grants for solar PV canopy projects (e.g., parking lots, garage roofs, pedestrian walkways). Projects must be >200 kW or associated with an "innovative strategy" and include electric vehicle charging stations. State-owned systems are eligible for grants of $0.75/W. Third-party owned systems are eligible for grants of $0.50/W.
Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Solar PV systems ≤1 MW may be eligible for grants from the Renewable Energy Trust Fund.
Renewable Energy Property Tax Exemption Massachusetts Department of Revenue Solar systems used as primary or auxiliary power system for the property are exempt from property taxation for 20 years.

Utility Incentive Programs

Utility Incentive Limitations
Concord Municipal Light Plant $0.625/W rebate Capped at $3,125
Hudson Light & Power $1.00-$1.25/W rebate
Rebate amount depends on system orientation
Capped at $12,000
Systems must be ≤100 kW

Resources

The list below provides some resources for each type of policy or program. Please reference and contact relevant authorities and local utilities for the most up-to-date and accurate information on state and utility policies and incentive programs.

Renewable Portfolio Standard

Net metering and interconnection

Programs and incentives

Other

Footnotes

1. For example, if a PV system with a capacity above or equal to 25 kW and below 650 kW has generated 10 MWh, it can claim 8 SRECs. The other 2 MWh will be automatically retired and will not be usable for RPS compliance.